Source Victoria's Secret: Challenges Behind a Brilliant Album

This scene invariably has played out in every musician's life — the point when one band member informs another he just proposed to his girlfriend. Following a stretch of confused ground inspection before resuming eye contact, instead of offering congratulations, his friend says something along the lines of, "Well, I guess you're gonna be making married music from now on."

Careful consideration of what we know now suggests that marriage, commitment, and responsibility aren't quite the death sentences to making great music they once were thought to be in bohemian circles. Go back in pop time immemorial and see for yourself. Exile on Main Street was recorded with kids and common-law spouses (and, in truth, heroin dealer) in tow — hell, Mick jumped the broomstick in the middle of the sessions — and you'd hardly call that marriage rock. Dylan's two greatest albums bookended the start and end of his only nuptial (during which he made a few lazy albums, granted) but the lows certainly justified the highs. Did Hank Williams even make a single record as a bachelor? The music of Tom Waits, married guy from the start of his great streak on Island Records — he even collaborated with his spouse on Frank's Wild Years and Big Time — hardly is the result of compromise and institutionalized nagging.

And let's not even go into all the great albums made by people soon to become unmarried. Sit down, Phil Collins fans; no one's talking to you.

Source Victoria: The "business casual" memo was lost on a few members.
Lindsay Piccinati Murphy
Source Victoria: The "business casual" memo was lost on a few members.

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Yucca Tap Room

29 W. Southern Ave.
Tempe, AZ 85282

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Tempe

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Source Victoria is scheduled to perform Friday, February 17, at the Yucca Tap Room in Tempe.

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Home and hearth considerations may have slowed or broken many a band, but each time the conversation about wedding bells or job opportunities came up in Source Victoria, the guys said "congratulations" instead of "fuck you" and got on with the band and their lives. The intrusion of reality known as emotion or even resignation that informed their first album, The Fast Escape, comes louder through your earbuds on Source Victoria's latest album, Slow Luck.

The four-year gap between albums saw three-fifths of the band's personnel change, leaving songwriter Brendan Murphy and Aaron Wendt the only original members. Lest you're hoping for tales of fistfights, acrimony, and brow-beatings — "You'll play this music my way!" or "You're dead to me, pal!" — skip the next three paragraphs. Please.

"No drama associated with their departures," Murphy says, smiling. "I'm sure they just had things going on — marriages, grad school, etc. — that made squeezing practices and shows into their full lives that much more complicated."

And, sure, it caused delays on Murphy and Wendt's end, too. "We didn't spend every waking moment on the record, largely because we all work and have families. Plus, we tend to be a little precious about everything . . . which, in the end, really made the record sound the way we wanted it to sound . . . It just took longer than we expected."

"More than anything, I think it was the desire to make a record we could be proud of while working under the time constraints of real life," says Wendt. "Whether you're talking about songwriting, working out new ideas in rehearsal, recording demos, and ultimately recording the record, packing all those things into a rehearsal or two a week leads to four years between records. At least in our case it did!"

No drama behind the scenes, then, but plenty in the laser etchings. If you grooved on the debut album's uniformity of mood (slow, evocative, and kinda glum), you'll notice how Source V lulls you into the album with happy glockenspiel and sleigh bells of "All That You Taught Me" (featuring pedal steel ny Jon Rauhouse) — more of a closing track to the last album — then doses you in the face with cold water in the form of stadium anthems like "Nobody Knows Like Me" and "Black Luck, Black Label."

"I really wanted to challenge myself on this record, write songs that were more concrete and less in the air and atmospheric. Plus, lyrically, the songs are more intimate and intense, and I think the music sort of supports those ideas and sentiments better than big shoegazing panoramas," says Murphy.

"Brendan would bring song ideas to us in varying degrees of completion that he had worked out at home on an acoustic guitar, rather than jam sessions in rehearsals with big-rock, delayed-guitar atmospheres," Wendt says.

Lennon used to tell McCartney their hit songs were "swimming pools," in terms of the income they would generate. That's probably out of the question for Source Victoria now, but at least five songs on the new record are worthy of, perhaps, a new bidet in the Murphy household. Clearly, the band was thinking of vinyl when they sequenced the album and drew large SIDE A and SIDE B dividers on the track listing. A benefit of this demarcation is that Slow Luck is a CD that twice starts and ends strong, a dynamic that led to most of the top 100 titles in any listing of classic albums. Possibly a trait lost on today's listeners, who like to cherry-pick songs and compile rollercoaster playlists.

"That is sort of a bummer, isn't it?" nods Murphy. "We are a band that likes albums, not just tracks. I want an album to make sense as a complete work. It doesn't have to be a concept record, but I love listening to a record and feeling like there are some unifying themes, even if the record has different types of tracks on it — like a collection of short stories, all different, but you get an overall feeling, a mood, a message. That is what I was going for when writing Slow Luck."

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